GVAT Homes for All Community Assembly

Sunday, 2 October – On October 2, all 26 member organizations of Greater Victoria Acting Together (GVAT) will come together in person for the first time and demonstrate our collective power to the broader community. Congregation Emanu-El is excited to be part of this big action event.

What is this Assembly about?
The deepening housing crisis touches so many people in our communities, from those experiencing homelessness to young families, single parents, workers, students, and seniors. Everyone deserves a home where they can live in security and within their means. This is a basic human right! Municipal elections are taking place on October 15. At the Assembly, GVAT will be asking mayoral candidates in the region to commit to bold policies that will preserve and create new non-profit and affordable housing for all our neighbours.

What will happen during the Assembly?
We will hear stories from people impacted by the housing crisis, then do a roll call of all member organizations – to show our strength and solidarity. Mayoral candidates present will be asked to pledge support for our asks.

What are we asking of our parishioners?
Show up at Christ Church Cathedral on October 2! Bring your family and friends. The higher the number of participants, the better we will convince the politicians that there is strong support for local governments to champion bold policies to quickly develop non-profit and affordable housing.

Why should you be there?
Even if you are securely and adequately housed yourself, think of all the people who aren’t. Can your children and grandchildren afford to live near you? Do you have friends residing in older rental buildings who live in fear of renoviction or demoviction? Can the people whose services you rely on (eg. healthcare providers) find housing in core Victoria? Are you a business owner who cannot find workers, because there is no affordable housing for them close by?

Covid safety:
All participants will be required to wear masks for the 1 ½-hour duration of the event. No refreshments will be served.

Please put October 2 on your calendar. The event will also be livestreamed via GVAT facebook. Join at vimeo.com/event/2446442
Any questions on the Assembly can be addressed to Info@congregationemanuel.ca.
Click here to see what the GVAT Affordable Housing Action Research Team has done thus far.


Summary of event details

GVAT Summer Social/Potluck Picnic

Monday, Sept. 5 – At the group picnic shelter Beaver Lake (Filter Beds Area) on Labor Day Monday, 5th September from 5:00-8:00 p.m.  Your presence is what will make it special.

Please bring:

  • Yourselves, friends and family 
  • Potluck food to share
  • Whatever non-alcoholic beverages you would like
  • Re-useable dishes, cutlery, napkins. We’re aiming for a zero-waste event.

 You may also wish to bring:

  • Chairs or blankets
  • Lawn games (eg. bocce, croquet…)
  • Canopies for sun or rain protection depending on weather  

Covid-Safety:  While the risk is never zero, we hope this outdoor event will minimize risks and meet everyone’s comfort level.  Hand sanitizer will be available. Distancing is encouraged. Feel free to wear masks.

Directions:   From West Saanich Road turn east onto Beaver Lake Road and go 1.2km to the Filter Beds parking lot. From Elk Lake Drive turn west onto Beaver Lake Road and drive 800m to the Filter Beds parking lot right beside the picnic shelter. 

BUT: Cycle, walk or use transit, if you can.


Summary of event details

  • Date: September 5, 2022
  • Time: 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
  • Where: Beaver Lake (Filter Beds Area)
  • Cost: Potluck
  • Registration: n/a
  • Contact: gvat.ca

Housing Presentation

Housing as a Human Right means Housing for All.
Time to make this a reality, not just a slogan

August 9, 7:30 p.m. – Join Emanu-El’s Avodah and GVAT’s Affordable Housing team, as we hear how GVAT has been engaging with member organizations to establish housing priorities and needs, and the achievable solutions it has been developing.

The presentation is a work in progress. Come be part of the process, for – in its final form – it will be the basis of GVAT’s campaign and the ASKS, to be made of candidates and politicians prior to the Elections

Join the Zoom discussion at us02web.zoom.us/j/89575080616?pwd=UDBzWWlLTlQ0bjBWOUlPenRqaVBSdz09


Summary of event details

GVAT Successes

Greater Victoria Acting Together has had some big wins in 2022. Head to their new blog to read:

  • The excellent account of A Roof for Everyone Workshop, held at Broad View United on April 23  and written by GVAT’s treasurer, Stephen Tyler.
  • Then read the equally excellent article from GVAT Board member Eric Doherty, on Victoria and Saanich voting unanimously for Rapid Affordable Housing at council meetings on April 14 and April 25.
  • A really important win for Youth Transitioning out of care to Adulthood, from GVAT’s Housing co-lead Yvonne Hsieh – the BC Government announcing significant additional support in the there BC Government’s 2022 budget.
  • And finally, check out how GVAT’s Climate Justice ‘Conversations’ is being received around town.

Remember, you can find all this and more at www.gvat.ca

A celebration of trees: a GVAT Earth Week event

Tuesday, April 20, 2021 from 7 to 8:30 pm—The Poetry and Song circle at the Church of Truth invites you to an evening of poems, songs, readings, photographs, paintings, and other artwork celebrating the major role that trees play in our lives. This event is part of the Greater Victoria Acting Together (GVAT) Tuesday for Trees campaign, to raise public awareness and pressure decision-makers regarding the importance of trees and forests in protecting us from climate change, and keeping BC beautiful and healthy. This Tuesday for Trees is an Earth Week event. As Congregation Emanu-El is a GVAT member, our congregants are welcome/encouraged to attend this event.

The program will include an update on the Tuesday for Trees campaign by a member of GVAT’s Climate Justice Action Research team (ART). There will be opportunities during the evening for audience members to dialogue with the presenters, and each other.

The evening will be on Zoom, and will run from 7 to 8.30 pm on Tuesday, April 20, 2021. To get further information, and/or to register for the event and eventually receive the Zoom link, please contact  chrisbullock@shaw.ca.

Tu Bishvat at House of Commons

Everyday when the House of Commons is sitting, there is 15-minute period when any member who is not a minister is permitted to address the House for up to one minute on virtually any matter of local, provincial, national or international concern. On January 28, 2021, Victoria MP Laurel Collins delivered a statement marking the occurrence of Tu Bishvat. To view her presentation… 

The trees are dancing—why shouldn’t we?

On Sunday January 24, 2021, Emanu-El members and friends explored our relationship to nature through a variety of media: food and drink, music, and a presentation. Rabbi Harry conducted a lively Tu Bishvat seder and explained the symbolism behind the traditional foods we eat. It was a rich sensory experience, replete with savouring the look, smell and taste of fresh fruits, nuts and wine. Elisheva Gray facilitated a sharing of the Kudoboard photos and write-ups of people’s experiences in the great outdoors. Rabbi Matt brought a joyous musical flair to our festival. “The trees are dancing, why shouldn’t we?” he joked. Numerous Hebrew School students attended for a portion of the program, lending a multigenerational feel to the workshop.

Lastly, we welcomed our guest speaker, Jane Welton, a volunteer with the “Climate Justice” Action Research Team (ART) of Greater Victoria Acting Together (GVAT). She delivered a powerful talk about the importance of trees in the climate emergency, and the need for urgent action to protect these valuable resources. Sadly, our old-growth forests in BC continue to be logged at an alarming pace…CLICK HERE for the text of Jane’s presentation.

Want to go beyond talking about social justice?

Tuesday, November 17, 2020 from 7 – 8:30 pm on ZoomGreater Victoria Acting Together (GVAT) Core Teams Workshop on Tuesday, November 17, 2020 from 7 – 8:30 pm on Zoom provides its member organizations with an opportunity to learn how to build support for GVAT purposes and activities from its members and to help them make the world a better place.

Congregation Emanu-El is a founding GVAT member. This workshop is an opportunity for Congregation Emanu-El members to explore whether participating in GVAT projects offers them a suitable opportunity to pursue social justice.

If you wonder about GVAT and whether it is a right fit for you, please see the GVAT orientation document…
If you wonder about GVAT Core Teams see here…

For information about the workshop and how to register, head over to gvat.ca/get-involved or to register directly head here. I

What if we took better care of each other?

Congregation Emanu-El (CEE) members were graced with an enthusiastic Greater Victoria Acting Together (GVAT) panel that included Rabbi Harry, CEE congregants Robert Oppenheimer and Ruth Shreier (shown above) and GVAT Lead Organizer Chet Phillips. The panelists briefed us on GVAT’s past and present; they invited us to consider what a world where we took better care of each other might look like. They were passionate; they promised to provide us with ways to individually and collectively explore how Congregation Emanu-El might connect with their vision and help make things happen. They made it clear that they had given up “begging bowls” and planned to be more than “latté liberals”. Their policy development is oriented toward action. GVAT wants to collaborate more actively with Emanu-El and will take steps to make this happen. Our President, Sam Godfrey and many of our Board members attended this inspiring panel. Stay tuned! (For a few more pictures…)

GVAT Forum – WHY we should engage…

Wednesday, October 21, 2020 at  7:00 pm on Zoom—Rabbi Harry invites you to participate in a special zoom GVAT (Greater Victoria Acting Together) forum for Emanu-El Congregants. The goal of this forum is to acquaint congregants with GVAT’s purposes and activities and to inform them about the opportunities that GVAT provides Emanu-El for tikkun olam. The speakers at this forum will include Chet Phillips, GVAT Lead Organizer and the Congregation Emanu-El members who participate in GVAT Action Research Teams. Find the ways to join Rabbi Harry below:

Join online: CLICK HERE…

Regular Dial-in: Call: 1 778 907 2071 Meeting ID: 890 6466 8356 Password: 649002

The purpose of this Forum is to highlight the importance of GVAT’s work, particularly given the damaged and fragmented state of our world today and our own forthcoming election. It will highlight the necessity of ensuring an active and committed Jewish voice in GVAT’s processes and procedures. We were once a lead voice in Faith in Action, with your help we can take up a similar role in GVAT. We owe it to our tradition, to our community, to ourselves and our kids, not to mention grandkids – they deserve a future, whatever that future may look like, where safety and security continues to be a given.

Our tradition tells us we do not need to complete the task of repairing the world, tikkun olam, but we are obligated to contribute to its repair. That has always been CE-E’s tradition. Indeed our very own Bernice z”l, a campaigner for justice like no other, has that call inscribed on her headstone “Justice, justice, shalt thou pursue”.

Our world is on fire, recently in the very real sense of the Americas, from the wetlands of the Pantanal and the Amazon rainforest all the way up to the State of Washington. On fire also, in the more metaphorical sense, from the ubiquitous injustice and inequality we see around us, to the South of us and across all the world’s continents, from homelessness to systemic racism, from mental health to the migration of peoples, brought on by war, conflict and climate change.

What I am saying will resonate with those of you who, like me, were privileged to hear Rabbi Harry’s drash on Yom KippurHineni! Let us make a Rosh Hashanah 5781 pledge to join in the October Forum on GVAT where we will discover how a good Jewish boy, (a lawyer called Saul Alinsky) in the Chicago of the 30s, was able to vastly improve the lives of so many and to found an international organization dedicated to the pursuit of justice, through his actions, his philosophy and his writings. That organization is still active today and GVAT is a part of it.

Remember, we’re “The Little Shul That Could”. As members of Emanu-El, you are already members of GVAT; let’s join together to ensure an active and engaged Jewish voice in formulating and pursuing GVAT’s goals. Join the Forum and check out GVAT’s web site to find out more.

If you’re interested, please contact Ruthi W., either directly or through the office.